Here come the Wobblies...

Published on Thu, Apr 5, 2001 by Soren Velice

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Here come the Wobblies...

By Soren Velice

As many as 5,000 people from labor unions in Washington and B.C. may show up on Blaine’s doorstep April 21, and Blaine police want to be ready.

To prepare for the rally, intended by the unions to peacefully protest the pending Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, the police department will host a town meeting Saturday April 7 at 10 a.m. to discuss possible problems with fringe groups.

“While the labor groups have maintained communication with police departments and applied for proper permits, these other groups have not,” police chief Bill Elfo said. “We’re reviewing what’s happened at other events these groups have been to, and that includes windowbreaking, vandalism and some violence.”

He said some of the groups were responsible for civil disobedience at Seattle’s World Trade Organization Rally in 1999. He also said while the unions involved anticipate peaceful protests, they acknowledged that some members may commit criminal acts in order to get arrested.

“There exists a medium to high risk of civil disobedience,” he said. “If these types of problems do in fact develop, there is a likelihood they could spill into surrounding residential and business areas.”

Groups planning to attend include Whatcom, King and Snohomish County Labor Councils, B.C.Government Services Union, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Auto Workers, Marine Workers and Boilermakers Industrial Union and International Longshore Workers Union locals from both sides of the border.

Many political groups also plan to attend, including Communist and Socialist parties from both sides of the border and the Association of Northwest Anarchists..

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